Thursday, May 21, 2009

SHARE THE CARE: Offering help

Some time ago, I wrote a post entitled Ask for help / receive offers for help graciously. In it I wrote, "We are just not programmed to receive help. How often is it beat into our heads (from childhood!), “it is better to give than to receive”? Well, the truth is, somebody forgot to close the loop on this little axiom. If nobody receives, it makes it damn HARD to give!"

I had a conversation about a week ago with someone who agreed with my sentiment but shared a slightly different perspective. She said "I would love to have some help! I want help, I know I need help, but with everything I'm trying to cope with, I can't always articulate what I need. The truth for me is that when you ask me "what can I do to help you?", the offer is so vague, my brain goes into overload and I just can't answer!" Hmmmmm. We finished our conversation and went our separate ways.

A bit later in the day, I walked into a card store and was immediately greeted with "May I help you?", and the "how can I help" conversation came rushing a flood. I've had extensive sales training over the years, and the #1 taboo in sales is to greet a customer with "may I help you?" It's too overwhelming and immediately invites the customer to put up his/her defenses. (All together now..."no thanks, I'm just looking!") In that instant, I understood what my companion was trying to say about offers of help.

The same way I've taught my team members over the years to greet customers with ANYTHING but "that sentence" (I've actually levied fines to retrain my forgetful team members!!!), I thought it would be helpful to share some specific alternatives to "How can I help?". This is a "starter set" to consider. Just remember the goal....narrow down the options for the patient/caregiver - so that you are much more likely to get a positive, definitive answer and everyone wins!

The photos in this post are of just a few of the many angels who inspired this post and came to my rescue....more than once!

  • I make a mean tuna cassarole and my family raves about my spaghetti. Which does your family prefer? (Obviously, insert your personal specialties!!!)

  • I am free to run the "kid shuttle" on Monday or Thursday. Which would be better for you?

  • I have an hour on Saturday to pull weeds or mow the lawn. Which chore would you like to delegate?

  • I can help you with household chores for about an hour - you know change beds, fold laundry, etc. How about Tuesday evening around 7 or Wednesday after 3?

  • I can take the kids Friday or Saturday night for a sleepover, which works best for you?
You get the idea! PLEASE add to this list by posting your suggestions! Another alternative: Don't ask - just DO!

Most of these suggestions require little or no planning and best of all, you can do them whenever YOU have the time, energy and inclination! Please keep your friend's temperment and your relationship in mind!! A word of the interest of fair disclosure: following any of these next suggestions is potentially risky! However, I am reasonably certain that even the most die-hard indivualists would appreciate it if you were to:
  • Take your kids, a couple of rakes and some big trash bags and just rake the leaves in your friend's yard. or...Trim the hedges. or....Mow the lawn. or...Deadhead/fertilize the roses. Other???

  • Shovel the driveway

  • Safely, with a buddy, clear the gutters. or...Wash the outside windows. or...Wash a car left in the driveway.
Your imagination is the only limit to builiding your Mitzvah list. Let me know how it goes!

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